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J. Duff wrote:

Hi, guys —

I wonder if you can give me some ideas.

I have a friend who believes in the Creator, and calls that Creator God.  He comes from a Judeo-Christian background and believes in Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary but not necessarily in Jesus as the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity.

While believing in the Bible as a book filled with wisdom and worth, I don't think he believes it is the Word or Truth of God, at least, not the only Work of God's Truth.

Basically, he holds the view that all religions hold Truth and thus, all are equal. I believe this comes from his wish not to exclude others from his beliefs.

  • What apologetics exist to address this type of viewpoint?

I would like, if I can, to show him Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, but I'm not sure where to start.

Thank you,

J.

  { What apologetics can you give me to reply to someone who believes all religions hold some truth? }

Terry replied:

Hi, J. —

I suspect you actually need to start from scratch and build using one of the approved apologetic manuals such as Archbishop Fulton Sheen, or Fr. Francis Ripley's 'This is the Faith'.

These questions always seem simple, and indeed they are, but they need to start from a common beginning. In fact, try using the basic Catechism to see where you have agreements before moving on to the next step.  For example:

  • Belief in God as Creator
  • Belief in one God
  • Belief in Scripture as the inspired word of God

    Once that is agreed upon, move on to Biblical texts about Jesus:

  • Truly existing and truly Son of God
  • Jesus' promises to be with His Church until the end of time
  • Show how that Church is the Catholic Church
  • Show how Jesus' authentic teaching is continued in the Councils of the Church and in the ordinary Magisterium, thus although all Churches MAY (but not necessarily) contain elements of truth, only the Catholic Church contains the fullness of God's Truth.

In reality, you are talking about meeting for a couple of hours, once a week for 6 months, to explore this properly. If your friend is truly interested, why not suggest this? Otherwise, try to simply answer [his|her] questions the best you can. The danger (remember St. Paul — " when I was a child I thought like a child, now I am a man." 1 Corinthians 13:11) is that too much theological explanation is given which has not been built upon appropriate Catholic foundations.

Above all, pray that Almighty God will use you in his way to explain in the correct manner.

God bless you and your friend

Terry

Tim Ouellette replied:

Great question!

I think the best place to start with your friend is with a well-researched study on the historical Person of Jesus Christ. People often express belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and they do so after having either heard the Gospel preached or after having read the Gospels in the New Testament. In either case, an assumption is made that Jesus Christ is God. Now, this assumption is correct, but at this point, it's still an assumption; after all, it's based on the belief that the Gospel proclamation is true, and that the Bible is inspired.

These two beliefs are generally held on to because of personal conviction, not a well-researched study. What one finds, when studying the Person of Jesus Christ in history, is that the existence of Jesus of Nazareth is attested to by parties both pro and con as having actually existed in the first century.  One can also take the Bible as, first, a historical document, without laying any claim to its inspiration, and can point to the claims made by this Jesus of Nazareth (namely, that He was God). The veracity of the Bible, as a historical document, is sound; it's a reliable historical testimony to the work of Jesus of Nazareth.

Essentially, it comes down to this: Jesus of Nazareth proved that He was God by rising from the dead. The reality of the Resurrection is unassailable, from a historical point of view. Once one comes to the realization that He did, in fact, rise from the dead and prove He was God, His Words, as recorded in the Bible, take on a whole new meaning.  They're words that are inspired, as well as binding on our souls. This is the point to which every Protestant must be taken: to see Jesus Christ, the God-Man, as a real, historical Person, not simply a character in a book. It was from the lips of Jesus that the Church was established, the Gospel proclaimed, the dead brought back to life.  These events are recorded in Scripture, but they were realities before the New Testament was even written.

This is the God of history, of reality, that every man must see:

  • the Child born
  • the Rabbi teaching
  • the Savior Crucified and put to death for our salvation
  • the Glorified One, who reigns now in Heaven sanctifying us on earth in the Eucharist.

Hope that helps!

Peace,

Tim Ouellette

Robert replied:

I would also recommend the book Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis as a starting point. Some of the great statements that Lewis made were (to paraphrase):

The man claimed to be God. Either he was a megalomaniac of epic proportions or he was telling the truth. { Lair, Lunatic or Lord }

Formal structure:

Premise: Jesus claimed to be God.

Question: One of the following must be true.

  1. Lunatic: Jesus was not God, but believed that he was.
  2. Liar: Jesus did not believe he was God, but spoke as if he did.
  3. Lord: Jesus is God.

    Conclusion: From these premises, it follows that, if not God, Jesus is not great and not moral.

Those around Him had one of two emotions:

  • either they loved Him and wanted to follow Him or
  • they hated Him

There was no one standing around mildly approving of Him.

Robert Coutinho

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